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2022 November News Brief

By November 17, 2022December 19th, 2022Newsletter

News Briefs

Wood River Women's Foundation Sun Valley Ketchum Idaho

November 2022

News Brief

Grantee Spotlight – The Hunger Coalition

Alli Frank connected with Kristin McMahon, the Communications Manager at our beloved grantee, The Hunger Coalition.

Q: How has the WRWF grant furthered the mission of your organization at this moment in time?

A: Through the years, WRWF has supported programming designed to bring people of all ages together around good food. Hundreds of youth have benefited from food, fun, and reading in the summer through our Bloom Truck program, Bloom Youth Project interns have graduated and gone on to give back to their communities in adulthood, and community partners have joined together at our Food Center to provide wrap-around services to people during our food distribution. This has included Blaine County Charitable Fund, The Alliance of Idaho, St. Luke’s Center for Community Health, and South Central Community Action who provide access to health, financial, and legal support. WRWF helped fund the space where this holistic approach to community healing takes place.

Q: With the support of the WRWF and the greater Blaine County community at-large, where do you see the organization in three years?

A: The Hunger Coalition is building on our Advocacy program to help fulfill the second half of our mission: addressing the root causes of food insecurity in collaboration with key partners. While we will continue to provide food for as long as it’s needed, we are growing our community organizing efforts to end hunger for good. We have worked with participants to identify the most pressing reasons folks reach out for food in the first place and are using civic engagement to influence change in these areas such as housing and education. In three years, we hope to reduce the number of people needing emergency food assistance by addressing hunger at its roots. We see food as the foundation for community-led advocacy where our ideas, energy, and passion for change come together over a good meal.

Q: What is one BIG HOPE you have for the future of the Wood River Valley?

A: If we really want to end hunger, we need to dream of new systems that provide everyone what they need to live a good life. We want all of the incredible people we work with to have a safe place to live, a good education, fair wages, mental and physical health, joy, love, and liberation so ultimately, folks can afford whatever food they like. To that end, we need to advocate and mobilize in new places. At city council meetings. At the polls. In boardrooms. At demonstrations and negotiating tables. We hope our community rises to this audacious dream to end hunger for good in Blaine County.

Grantees in the News: Girls on the Run Lunafest

Girls on the Run Southern Idaho, a Wood River Women’s Foundation grantee, is seeking new committee members to help them plan and implement their annual Lunafest, happening on February 16th, 2023. This event is a film festival with shorts films made by women about women. The committee will plan the evening being hosted in both Blaine and Twin Falls counties, as well as help procure donations for the silent auction, which is their largest fundraiser of the year.

This is a very fun and exciting evening with great energy and a wonderful way to celebrate girls and women while also supporting the Girls on the Run scholarships and programs. The early evening virtual committee meetings are currently once a month, expected more frequently as the event draws closer.

Committee Corner – Leadership & Nominating Committee

Committee Corner Leadership & Nominating Chair LeeAnne Linderman

The WRWF Vice President-Leadership role sprang out of the recommendations of the Strategic Plan drafted by the Board in 2019 and completed in 2021. The purpose of the role is to assist the President and the Board by creating, and then overseeing, a WRWF Leadership Development Program. That program has the primary focus of guiding work to assure that members who express interest in volunteering are connected with committee chairs. The Leadership Development Program also focuses on those members who express a desire to fill future leadership positions, including Committee Chairs, Co-Chairs and as Board members.

An additional responsibility of the VP-Leadership is to chair the Nominating Committee, which identifies, interviews and then nominates qualified and interested members for leadership roles to the WRWF board as opportunities come available.

The VP-Leadership is recommended by the WRWF Board President and voted on annually by the membership. The current VP-Leadership and chair of the Nominating Committee is LeeAnne Linderman. LeeAnne has served in this role and on the WRWF Board since 2021. She has extensive executive leadership experience in both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, and currently serves on the board of a global women’s leadership organization chairing its leadership development program’s selection committee.

The WRWF Nominating Committee benefits from the expertise and passion of its members. The Committee currently consists of Past-President Terri Bullock, and includes Board member Jenni Riley and former board member Louisa Moats.

Any members interested in more information regarding the work of the VP-Leadership and the Nominating Committee please contact LeeAnne Linderman at for further information.

Focus Grant 2022 – Wood River Early Learning Collaborative (WRELC)

The Focus Grant 2022 (FG22) Team and the Idaho AEYC have been supporting the work of the Wood River Early Learning Collaborative (WRELC). On Tuesday, 11/15 it was announced that Kathryn Ivers was appointed as Project Director of the WRELC, the newly-formed Advisory Council had been identified, and that it started important assessment work. To read the press release in full, please click here. 

In the photo, the WRELC took a great first step into establishing rapport with families during a Kindergarten Readiness Kit distribution event at the Hailey Library on 11/9/22. According to Kathryn, “Elise and the team at the Hailey Public Library are signing parents up for free workshops that provide information on how to promote early literacy, social/emotional growth, and math skills at home through various activities, songs and reading. This is an opportunity to promote early learning in the community as we collect data and move forward with the needs assessment.”

The next distribution event will be at the Bellevue Library event on 11/18/22 from 5:30 to 7:00pm. Click this link to learn more about the READY! for Kindergarten workshops and programs.

Many thanks to Laura Midgley and Louisa Moats for their leadership on this initiative.


WRWF Holiday Celebration and Nonprofit Fundraiser
December 15, 2022
4:00-6:00 pm
Trinka Dyer’s Home— 641 Valley Club Drive

  • Light nibbles to be provided by The Haven
  • We will be supporting a local nonprofit in the valley
  • Members will have the opportunity to make a donation
  • An email with details on tickets, nonprofit, and donation options coming soon
  • Seeking underwriting for event beverages—please contact Dawn Sabo at

In Memoriam

With deep sympathy and gratitude for her generosity, we honor the passing of Founding Member Wendy Pesky

January 8, 1941 – October 24, 2022

Wendy’s family shared a beautiful tribute about her life and extensive philanthropic involvement in an obituary published by The Idaho Mountain Express

Read the Idaho Mountain Express article here

The life of a wonderful woman has come to a sudden end. Our beloved Wendy died on Oct. 24, 2022, in New York. At 81, she was still young-spirited and full of energy, planning the next family gathering and more adventures with Alan, welcoming friends with beautiful meals, and continuing to help others through her passion for education, social justice, and the arts. There are women and men, John W. Gardner observed, who make the world better, simply by being the kind of people they are—they have the gift of kindness, courage, loyalty, or integrity. Wendy Pesky was such a person, a gift to all those who knew her or were touched by her grace.

The first thing Wendy would want us to tell you about her is the joy she experienced as a mother, wife, grandmother, daughter, sister, and friend. Her quiet strength and warmth shone brightest among her family: Alan, her husband of 61 years; Heidi Worcester, her daughter, and Greg Pesky, her son; her son-in-law, Rick Worcester, and daughter-in-law, Naomi Pesky; her grandchildren, Eliza, Hope, and Sam Worcester, Talia and Levi Pesky; and her brothers, Michael, Peter, and Robert Stern. With her son Lee, whom we lost 27 years ago, Wendy is now camping under the stars and making perfect turns on mountains far above us. She was our rock and the light that drew us together. And she extended her generosity of spirit to friends and the community.

Wendy was born in New York City on Jan. 8, 1941, to Milton and Bernice Stern, from whom she inherited a trailblazing vitality. Childhood vacations riding horses, pitching hay, and skiing in Vermont gave this city girl a profound love for mountains and wild places. It was there, at the age of 19, that she met Alan, and it was love at first sight for both. They were married nine months later. Not one to waste time, Wendy was graduating from Hunter College at 21 with a bachelor’s in education and a baby on the way—Heidi, their first. Lee and Greg followed, and while she was raising the children, Wendy gave Alan her unwavering support in his career. After a successful career of her own as a marketing executive in the fragrance industry, Wendy parlayed her keen sense of design and entrepreneurial skills into The Farmhouse Collection, which she and two friends started together.

By far her most important venture was the founding with Alan in 1997 of a nonprofit dedicated to helping children with learning disabilities—Lee Pesky Learning Center, named in honor of their son, who died at the age of 30. Wendy and Alan cultivated a welcoming, collaborative environment where both children and staff feel valued and empowered to learn and grow. And, in her words, “where every child leaves with a little bit of Lee in them.”

The essence of Wendy is perhaps best conveyed by how she did things—often with humor, always with an open mind. Alan’s crazy adventure ideas she usually greeted with, “We are going where??” and then, “Sure, why not!” Alan in 1990: “If I take you to Fiji, will you first go biking and bungee jumping with me in New Zealand?” Wendy: “Sounds like a deal, but you get to do the first bungee jump.” The jump was aborted, the biking was great. Her gumption and zest in their adventures always delighted Alan. Whether biking on their own 600 miles across the Australia Outback, biking from Hanoi to Saigon, trekking the Patagonia circuit, being guests of the American expedition on Everest, or walking the Camino de Santiago — Wendy was game. Petite, yet strong and tough.

Their marriage was a remarkable and loving partnership, their life together packed with purpose and cherished roads traveled together. As she wrote to Alan on their 60th anniversary, “You have challenged me to become stronger, bolder, and more open to the unknown. You’ve always supported me, encouraged me, and been proud of me. You have loved me, and I have loved you … OK, there have been times when I could have thrown you overboard, but I definitely would have tossed you the life preserver.” We will miss her wit.

Wendy had the ability to make life more beautiful, a master of the small touches that made people feel welcome and special. Thank you notes, always handwritten and never perfunctory. A phone call to a friend just when it was most needed. Her commitment to leaving the world a better place, unheralded and humbly executed, shone through in all aspects of her life. Wendy was a thoughtful, generous, and active board member of the Sun Valley Museum of Art, The Alliance of Idaho, and, of course, Lee Pesky Learning Center. She and Alan have also been ardent supporters of The Hunger Coalition, Boise State University, Planned Parenthood, the Senior Connection, and Hunter College.

You could be fooled by Wendy’s understated approach. A few minutes spent in her quiet presence, though, was enough to blow you away. Curious and well-read, she had an informed point of view and was clear in her beliefs. She could be tough when needed, but never harsh. A model of balance, keeping things in perspective even in the worst of times. Alan, speaking of Wendy after the loss of their son Lee: “In the beginning, we took one breath, one step, one hour, one day at a time. Wendy dealt with it quietly, with the poise and calm she brings to nearly everything she does … She is the strongest and most tender person I know.”

Fun to be with, easy to talk with, and a dynamo in all she did, Wendy surpassed her husband on the ski slope and the golf course and always delighted in the successes of others. She was a stealth bomber, Alan says. Early in his career, Wendy once plucked a cigar out of his mouth at a dinner party, saying with her lovely smile, “I hate those things,” broke it in half, then continued a conversation with the person next to her. Alan loved it. Effortlessly elegant, and beautiful inside and out, Wendy Pesky, in the words of a friend, was gracious in a way that is disappearing—a true lady. Soft-spoken and unassuming, she welcomed all to her table, her home, and her heart in an open way. A role model for a life well-lived with compassion and grace. Her absence leaves a hole for us that can never be filled.

Copper Basin in Idaho was Wendy’s special place, her heaven on earth. You could find her there early in the mornings, wrapped in a puffy and blankets, curled up on the swing seat in front of their cabin with a book and a mug of coffee, waiting for the sun to rise over the peaks and a glimpse of the resident moose. Wendy poured her love for Copper Basin and the beautiful times she spent there with family and friends into a stunning cookbook, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” which she created and published four months before she died. She was proud of it, and the book says a great deal about her. Wendy understood what so many of us miss— that a life is defined less by its highlights and low points than by all the small, everyday moments in between. And Wendy was a person who tended to those moments, to the life she shared with the people she loved.

We are deeply grateful to all who have shared their thoughts, memories, and appreciation of Wendy with us. Many of their words are reflected here. Donations in Wendy’s memory may be made to Lee Pesky Learning Center, the Sun Valley Museum of Art, and the Alliance of Idaho. A celebration of life will be held on July 27, 2023, in Ketchum with further details to be announced.

Read the Idaho Mountain Express article HERE

New Member Spotlight

Angie Christensen

We are happy to welcome new member Angie Christensen. Here she shares a bit about herself: This past August I moved to the Sun Valley area from Seattle and was happy to quickly learn about the Wood River Women’s Foundation. My goal as a member is to learn about, and invest in, Blaine County nonprofits and also make friends!

Since 2016, I have worked as an advocate to support domestic violence and other crime victims with the City of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department. I have a strong passion for issues affecting disadvantaged women and girls. As a Regional Board member of the One Love Foundation, I help bring One Love’s educational programs to teens and young adults teaching them about healthy and unhealthy relationships and empowering them to avoid abuse. I am also an avid supporter and fundraiser for the WA Alliance for Gun Violence, which works towards preventing gun violence.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Indiana University, and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California, with a focus on nonprofit management.

For fun, I spend as much time as possible outdoors gardening and doing sports with my husband, two teenagers and a very mischievous beagle.

New Members


We are delighted to extend a warm WRWF welcome new members who joined this month!

Barbara Dwyer
Sonya Wilander
Alisa Goxhaj
Gabrielle Tierney

New WRWF members are invited to provide photos and a bit of information about themselves to share in the News Brief. We have so many interesting members and it is fun to read about everyone’s background. Thanks so much and we look forward to meeting you soon.

New Member Form

Max. file size: 50 MB.
Max. file size: 50 MB.

Thank you, Sponsors.

And, thank YOU for signing up with Amazon Smile

Many thanks to members who have designated WRWF as their selected charity on AmazonSmile! To link Wood River Women’s Foundation AmazonSmile to your Amazon account, click here and get signed up. Then, whenever you shop Amazon, use the AmazonSmile website.

We are grateful for our sponsors and extend a hearty WRWF thank you to Graybird Foundation, Little Caesars and Zions Bank!

Thank you, Contributors!

Thank you to this month’s News Brief contributors:
Christina Bauer, Alli Frank, Carol Hoffman, LeeAnne Linderman, Rebecca Ybarra Palma, Karissa Price Rico, Deb Prost, Sarah Shepard, Renee Spooner